KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — The Malaysian government subsidises about 98 per cent of the treatment cost for citizens at public health facilities, according to the health minister.
According to Dr Adham Baba, there is also a mechanism for which the bottom 40 per cent (B40) can apply for an exemption or a reduction of their hospital bills.
“For patients who are less able to pay medical bills, namely those who belong to the B40 group, the mechanism for applying for exemption or reduction by outpatient and third-class patients is already in place to ensure they get the necessary health services,” the health minister told the Dewan Negara in a recent written parliamentary reply.
Senator Suresh Singh (DAP) had asked the health minister to state the measures taken by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to help patients, especially those who fall under the B40 category with chronic health issues like cancer and diabetes, among others, who have to bear the cost of medical treatment themselves.
Dr Adham pointed out that Malaysians who receive treatment in government health facilities will be charged accordingly under the Fees (Medical) Order 1982 and Fees (Medical) (Amendment) Order 2017.
“The government is always concerned about the health care needs of Malaysians by charging reasonable medical charges,” the health minister told Senator Suresh.
“The government also provides medical aid to those in need, like the Medical Relief Fund, hemodialysis treatment, erythropoietin injections in haemodialysis centres managed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have registered with the Ministry of Health, and heart treatment in the National Heart Institute.”
The health minister also highlighted the Peduli Sihat scheme for the B40 group (Peka B40) that provides free medical screenings for low-income people in participating private clinics, in the government’s bid to tackle non-communicable diseases.
Last year, cancer advocates urged MOH not to penalise those who are referred from private or university hospitals to MOH facilities with first class rates, including for hospitalisation and medicine, even if they want cheaper third class treatment.
Based on the Fees (Medical) (Amendment) Order 2017, a one-bedded first class general ward is charged at RM120 per day, 40 times more expensive than RM3 for a third class ward.
On the other hand, targeted therapy is charged RM600 under the first class rate, which is 12 times higher than the third class RM50 fee.
The cancer advocates also pointed out that most cancer patients do their initial treatment at a private facility, as they cannot afford to wait for months at government facilities for their diagnosis or first surgery.
However, previous Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, under the then-Pakatan Harapan government, told CodeBlue that the medical fee legislation will not be amended.